Stepping Back in Time


Parkette Lexington
A quick glimpse into the air-conditioned original part of the restaurant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, a little bit, anyway. Since my time travel has mostly been to pre-Revolutionary War days, and his to a Medieval society (even if one that never truly existed), taking a little detour to the 1950s was nothing. We spent most of our day visiting with the Folks in Kentucky, then headed for home, with a pre-planned side trip into Lexington to visit the Parkette Drive-In. The Parkette has been in operation since 1951, and was evidently featured on a national TV show in the last few years. Despite that, it keeps the charm I’m sure it has had since the beginning.

When you first see it, it’s the massive illuminated sign that lets you know you’re in the right place. Which is good, since your GPS informed you when you were setting the destination that there are no house numbers on New Circle Road, where the restaurant is located. Oh, GPS… why are you such a pain? Out front of the Parkette is the big covered Drive-In, but we pulled around to the back to eat inside. For one thing, we had the dog in the car, and didn’t feel like eating with her breathing down our necks.

I’ve been to a drive-in before, there is an old one in Newport NH. My Dad has taken each of his grandkids there in turn to ensure the next generation doesn’t forget what came before fast-food… The Parkette has that old-timey charm inside as well. We sat in the outer area, all shiny chrome tables and chairs, with the garage doors that lined the covered patio pulled up to let the breeze come through. I often find air conditioning uncomfortable, not being used to it, and this was nice. Noisy – garages have terrible acoustics – but that was fine, we could still chat.

Parkette decor
My technician companion approves this sign.

It’s a casual environment, you seat yourself and in a minute the waitress comes along to take your drink order… I had pop, but the First Reader enjoyed a strawberry shake he said had been made the right way, with chunks of berry you had to fight to suck up your straw. I was a little disappointed to see their advertised Poor Boy wasn’t what I think of as a Po’Boy, but a double cheeseburger. We decided to stick with fried chicken and onion rings.

The Parkette Lexington
Fried Chicken and Onion Rings
Old-school drive-in
Juicy Fried Chicken

The chicken was pretty good, crispy without being overbreaded, and moist. It was a little greasy. We ordered two thighs and two drumsticks, and with the excellent onion rings it was definitely enough for the two of us despite being a single entree on the menu. The odd thing was, I gather, a signature of the restaurant: it came with gravy to dip in. The gravy was good, but not something I’d normally put on either chicken or onion rings, and I tasted, but didn’t get that adventurous. The little coleslaw had a nice tang, but a bit more dressing-to-slaw ratio than either of us like. On the other hand, it cut the greasiness of the chicken nicely.

The Parkette, Lexington
Funnel-cake Fries, buried in powdered sugar.

We did get a little dessert, the playful Funnel-cake Fries, which were coated in far too much powdered sugar and came with a strawberry dipping sauce which involved chunks of whole berries I wasn’t sure what to do with (you don’t get silverware, or I might have eaten them!). That aside, they were tasty and just like a fair funnel cake without the vast quantity you get at the fair.

Overall the food was good, not spectacular, but the atmosphere was fun and everything we’d hoped for. We’ll go back again on one of our Kentucky trips. It wasn’t hard to find, but I wouldn’t try to get there if traffic was going to be heavy, it’s directly on a very large road. Also, as busy as it was when we were in there, I think it might be hard to get a seat!

Kentucky Farm
Kentucky Farm with the black board fences most seem to have.
Kentucky Barn
A black barn of Kentucky
stone church
Stone church in Cynthiana, KY